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201  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Has Hillary found her wiggle room? "Jeb did the same thing" on: March 06, 2015, 08:07:56 AM
202  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / How America was misled on AQ's demise on: March 06, 2015, 08:05:32 AM
How America Was Misled on al Qaeda’s Demise
The White House portrait of a crumbling terror group is contradicted by documents seized in the bin Laden raid.
Stephen F. Hayes And
Thomas Joscelyn
March 5, 2015 7:13 p.m. ET

In the early-morning hours of May 2, 2011, a small team of American military and intelligence professionals landed inside the high white walls of a mysterious compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. The team’s mission, code-named Operation Neptune Spear, had two primary objectives: capture or kill Osama bin Laden and gather as much intelligence as possible about the al Qaeda leader and his network. A bullet to bin Laden’s head accomplished the first; the quick work of the Sensitive Site Exploitation team accomplished the second.

It was quite a haul: 10 hard drives, nearly 100 thumb drives and a dozen cellphones. There were DVDs, audio and video tapes, data cards, reams of handwritten materials, newspapers and magazines. At a Pentagon briefing days after the raid, a senior military intelligence official described it as “the single largest collection of senior terrorist materials ever.”

The United States had gotten its hands on al Qaeda’s playbook—its recent history, its current operations, its future plans. An interagency team led by the Central Intelligence Agency got the first look at the cache. They performed a hasty scrub—a “triage”—on a small sliver of the document collection, looking for actionable intelligence. According to Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, the team produced more than 400 separate reports based on information in the documents.

But it is what happened next that is truly stunning: nothing. The analysis of the materials—the “document exploitation,” in the parlance of intelligence professionals—came to an abrupt stop. According to five senior U.S. intelligence officials, the documents sat largely untouched for months—perhaps as long as a year.

In spring 2012, a year after the raid that killed bin Laden and six months before the 2012 presidential election, the Obama administration launched a concerted campaign to persuade the American people that the long war with al Qaeda was ending. In a speech commemorating the anniversary of the raid, John Brennan , Mr. Obama’s top counterterrorism adviser and later his CIA director, predicted the imminent demise of al Qaeda. The next day, on May 1, 2012, Mr. Obama made a bold claim: “The goal that I set—to defeat al Qaeda and deny it a chance to rebuild—is now within our reach.”

The White House provided 17 handpicked documents to the Combatting Terror Center at the West Point military academy, where a team of analysts reached the conclusion the Obama administration wanted. Bin Laden, they found, had been isolated and relatively powerless, a sad and lonely man sitting atop a crumbling terror network.

It was a reassuring portrayal. It was also wrong. And those responsible for winning the war—as opposed to an election—couldn’t afford to engage in such dangerous self-delusion.

“The leadership down at Central Command wanted to know what were we learning from these documents,” says Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn, the former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, according to the transcript of an interview with Fox News anchor Bret Baier for a coming Fox News Reporting special. “We were still facing a growing al Qaeda threat. And it was not just Pakistan and Afghanistan and Iraq. But we saw it growing in Yemen. We clearly saw it growing still in East Africa.” The threat “wasn’t going away,” he adds, “and we wanted to know: What can we learn from these documents?”

After a pitched bureaucratic battle, a small team of analysts from the Defense Intelligence Agency and Centcom was given time-limited, read-only access to the documents. The DIA team began producing analyses reflecting what they were seeing in the documents.

At precisely the time Mr. Obama was campaigning on the imminent death of al Qaeda, those with access to the bin Laden documents were seeing, in bin Laden’s own words, that the opposite was true. Says Lt. Gen. Flynn: “By that time, they probably had grown by about—I’d say close to doubling by that time. And we knew that.”

This wasn’t what the Obama White House wanted to hear. So the administration cut off DIA access to the documents and instructed DIA officials to stop producing analyses based on them.

Even this limited glimpse into the broader set of documents revealed the problems with the administration’s claims about al Qaeda. Bin Laden had clear control of al Qaeda and was intimately involved in day-to-day management. More important, given the dramatic growth of the terror threat in the years since, the documents showed that bin Laden had expansion plans. Lt. Gen. Flynn says bin Laden was giving direction to “members of the wider al Qaeda leadership team, if you will, that went all the way to places like West Africa where we see a problem today with Boko Haram and [al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb], all the way back into the things that were going on in Afghanistan and Pakistan.” Bin Laden advised them on everything from specific operations in Europe to the types of crops his minions should plant in East Africa.

To date, the public has seen only two dozen of the 1.5 million documents captured in Abbottabad. “It’s a thimble-full,” says Derek Harvey, a senior intelligence official who helped lead the DIA analysis of the bin Laden collection.

And while it is impossible to paint a complete picture of al Qaeda based on the small set of documents available to the public, documents we are able to read, including those released last week in a Brooklyn terror trial, reveal stunning new details.

According to one letter, dated July 2010, the brother of Nawaz Sharif, Pakistan’s current prime minister, sought to strike a peace deal with the jihadists. Bin Laden was informed that Shahbaz Sharif, who was then the chief minister of Punjab, wanted to cut a deal with the Pakistani Taliban, whose leadership was close to bin Laden. The government “was ready to reestablish normal relations as long as [the Pakistani Taliban] do not conduct operations in Punjab,” according to the letter from Atiyah Abd al Rahman, one of bin Laden’s top deputies. Attacks elsewhere in Pakistan were apparently acceptable under the terms of the alleged proposal. Al Qaeda intended to guide the Pakistani Taliban throughout the negotiations. The same letter reveals how al Qaeda and its allies used the threat of terrorist attacks as a negotiating tactic in its talks with the Pakistani military.

The letter also shows that Pakistani intelligence was willing to negotiate with al Qaeda. Al Qaeda “leaked” word to the press that “big, earth shaking operations” were planned in Pakistan, the letter says, but bin Laden’s men and their allies would back off if the Pakistani army eased up on its offensive against the jihadists in the north: “In the aftermath” of the al Qaeda leak, “the intelligence people . . . started reaching out to us through some of the Pakistani ‘jihadist’ groups, the ones they approve of.” One of the Pakistani intelligence service’s emissaries was Fazl-ur-Rahman Khalil, a longtime bin Laden ally who leads the Harakat-ul-Mujahideen. Khalil was an early booster of bin Laden’s war against the West, having signed the al Qaeda master’s infamous 1998 fatwa declaring jihad “against the Jews and the Crusaders.” Another government intermediary was Hamid Gul, the one-time head of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency.

Al Qaeda’s network in Iran is also described in bin Laden’s letters. The Iranian regime held some senior al Qaeda leaders, eventually releasing them. This led to disagreements between the two sides. But the mullahs have also allowed al Qaeda to use Iranian soil as a key transit hub, shuttling fighters and cash to and from South Asia. One letter recounts a plan, devised by Yunis al Mauritani, one of bin Laden’s senior lieutenants, to relocate to Iran. Once there, Mauritani would dispatch terrorists to take part in operations around the world.

Mauritani was tasked by bin Laden with planning Mumbai-style shootings in Europe in 2010. The plot was fortunately thwarted. But all of the terrorists selected to take part transited Iran, according to court proceedings in Germany, taking advantage of the Iranian regime’s agreement with al Qaeda.

During the Arab uprisings in 2011, Obama administration officials argued that al Qaeda had been “sidelined” by the peaceful protests. Just weeks before he was killed, however, bin Laden’s men dispatched operatives to Libya and elsewhere to take advantage of the upheaval. “There has been an active Jihadist Islamic renaissance under way in Eastern Libya (Benghazi, Derna, Bayda and that area) for some time, just waiting for this kind of opportunity,” Atiyah Abd al Rahman wrote in early April 2011. Rahman thought there was much “good” in the so-called Arab Spring. And bin Laden believed that the upheaval presented al Qaeda with “unprecedented opportunities” to spread its radical ideology.

The fight over the bin Laden documents continues. Mr. Harvey, the senior DIA official, believes that the documents should be declassified and released to the public as soon as possible, after taking precautions to avoid compromising sources or methods. Rep. Devin Nunes, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, inserted language in the 2014 intelligence authorization bill requiring just that.

Making the documents public is long overdue. The information in them is directly relevant to many of the challenges we face today—from a nuclear deal with an Iranian regime that supports al Qaeda to the rise of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and Islamic State in Iraq and Syria; from confidence-building measures meant to please the Afghan Taliban to the trustworthiness of senior Pakistani officials.

Choosing ignorance shouldn’t be an option.

Mr. Hayes is a senior writer for the Weekly Standard. Mr. Joscelyn is senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
Popular on WSJ

203  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Where's the money for maintaining nukes? on: March 06, 2015, 07:46:21 AM
The Pentagon has a nuclear weapons problem. Nukes are expensive to maintain, and DoD expects to have a hard time finding the billions of dollars needed to keep them in shape over the next decade. FP’s Kate Brannen: The Pentagon’s top weapons buyer “Frank Kendall said that starting in 2021, it’s going to be a challenge to identify money within the defense budget to pay for the military’s nuclear modernization plans.”
204  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: March 06, 2015, 07:44:17 AM
Netanyahu Receives Modest Boost From U.S. Speech

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is still running neck-and-neck with his rivals in the upcoming parliamentary election, which is scheduled for March 17. Israeli polls show Netanyahu’s Likud Party received a slight boost from the prime minister’s speech this week in front of Congress, increasing its likely support by one or two seats. However, it is still in a virtual tie with the center-left Zionist Union. While public opinion surveys showed that many Israelis received Netanyahu’s address to Congress positively, a large percentage also said that the speech would not affect their vote.
205  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / US troops in Ukraine, Russia pist off, confrontation in the air on: March 06, 2015, 07:40:47 AM
 The U.S. and Russia: Exercises and Venom
Geopolitical Diary
March 6, 2015 | 02:14 GMT
Text Size

Three hundred U.S. paratroopers could soon be arriving in Lviv, western Ukraine, for training exercises with the Ukrainian army. The arrival of the troops, which was signaled several weeks ago and alluded to as recently as Monday by the commander of the U.S. 173rd Airborne Brigade — the unit that would supply the troops — would represent a significant event in the Ukraine crisis. No matter how few or what their mission, these are U.S. combat forces. The United States would at that point have taken the step of openly deploying combat forces in Ukraine, something that had not happened in some time, taking the U.S. relationship with Ukraine to a new level. It signals to the Russians that Ukraine, however informally, is now in a special relationship with the United States. At the same time, military exercises are taking place in the Black Sea involving a U.S. warship and cruiser and Romanian, Bulgarian and Turkish assets. It is a fairly routine exercise, but under these circumstances, what had been routine now takes on special meaning.

Russian forces are conducting exercises as well in southern Russia and the North Caucasus, including Armenia, Abkhazia and South Ossetia. As significant, the exercises extend to Crimea. They focus on air defense. Significantly, both NATO and the Russians are conducting exercises around the Baltics.

Armies exercise all the time, but context is everything. Before the Russo-Georgian war of 2008, the United States was exercising with Georgian forces while the Russians were conducting exercises just north of Georgia. The Americans went home when the exercise ended. The Russians stayed put: The exercise was the preface for the Russian move into Georgia. Similarly, what has been routine before now is not necessarily routine right now.

What is a Geopolitical Diary? George Friedman Explains.

The United States has indicated it may introduce a small force into Ukraine. The Russians may easily view that as a preface to a larger force. According to Nikolai Patrushev, the head of the Russian Security Council: "The U.S. is funding political groups under the guise of promoting civil society, just as in the color revolutions in the former Soviet Union and the Arab world. At the same time, the U.S. is using the sanctions imposed over the conflict in Ukraine as a pretext to inflict economic pain and stoke discontent. It's clear that the White House has been counting on a sharp deterioration in Russians' standard of living, mass protests." Others in Russia are charging that the United States is trying to overthrow President Vladimir Putin, and some that the CIA murdered Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov to generate protests. Meanwhile, the assumption on the U.S. side is that Putin had Nemtsov murdered.

The atmosphere has become increasingly toxic. Under the circumstances, every military exercise must be taken seriously for its implications. U.S. exercises in Ukraine and the Black Sea can be viewed as the dress rehearsal for naval action and larger forces. On the American side, the emphasis on air defenses raises the possibility of a Russian move to the west. If the Russians were to attack Ukraine, and the Americans chose to resist, the primary means available would be air power designed to strike at armor concentrations. The Russian counter is not its own air force, which is limited, but rather its mobile and strategic surface-to-air missiles to deny aircraft access to the skies over the attackers. Therefore, of all the exercises to cause potential concern in the United States concerning Russian intentions, exercising this capability would raise the specter of a potential Russian invasion of Ukraine.

There is, of course, a certain hollowness to all this rhetoric and maneuvering. This is not 1980, with massive forces carefully trained and deployed on both sides. The United States is planning to send a battalion of paratroopers. That really isn't much. The Russian army is a shadow of the Soviet army, and its ability to move even with minimal resistance is limited.

At the same time, the rhetoric and the charges disproportionate to the forces available are still noteworthy. The head of the Russian Security Council has essentially accused the United States of trying to cripple the Russian Federation. The Americans are saying that the Russians have violated the territory of a sovereign state and must be repelled. And the death of Nemtsov has triggered charges against both the FSB and the CIA.

It is difficult to see how either side backs off its position; this has become an American-Russian confrontation. Both are increasingly locking themselves into a hostile posture. Neither is in a position to launch a war, but both are ultimately capable of waging one. We expected a new Cold War between the United States and Russia, but we are surprised at the speed and venom that is framing this confrontation. The force is not there to match the venom, but given the intensity, no one should be confident that the force will not be generated.
206  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Hamilton: 1787, Federalist #1 on: March 06, 2015, 07:36:11 AM
"Of those men who have overturned the liberties of republics, the greatest number have begun their career by paying an obsequious court to the people, commencing demagogues and ending tyrants." --Alexander Hamilton in Federalist No. 1 (1787)
207  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: UFC Comments? on: March 05, 2015, 11:55:01 PM
I'm guessing this is going to intrigue Dana White more than a little , , ,
208  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / University squeezes conservative student newspaper on: March 05, 2015, 11:07:04 PM
209  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The Jews who fought back on: March 05, 2015, 09:19:09 PM
210  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Just how unsafe was Hillary's secret server? on: March 05, 2015, 03:48:36 PM
5th post

To see the visuals that are part of the piece, best to go to: 

 When Hillary Clinton ditched government email in favor of a secret, personal address, it wasn't just an affront to Obama's vaunted transparency agenda—security experts consulted by Gawker have laid out a litany of potential threats that may have exposed her email conversations to potential interception by hackers and foreign intelligence agencies.

"It is almost certain that at least some of the emails hosted at were intercepted," independent security expert and developer Nic Cubrilovic told Gawker.

Within the instant classic "" domain, it appears there are three separate servers. The domain's blank landing page is hosted by Confluence Networks, a web firm in the British Virgin Islands, known for monetizing expired domain names and spam.

But the real worry comes from two other public-facing subdomains, which can allow anyone with the right URL to try to sign in.

One is, which provides a login page that apparently uses an SSL VPN—a protocol that allows your web browser to create an encrypted connection to a local network from any internet connection—to users to access their email. That sounds secure, and under the right circumstances, for regular users, it can be. But there are two huge problems with using it for the Secretary of State's communications with her staff and others.

How Unsafe Was Hillary Clinton's Secret Staff Email System?

First: Anyone in the world with that URL can attempt to log in. It's unclear what exactly lies on the other side of this login page, but the fact that you could log into anything tied to the Secretary of State's email is, simply, bad. If the page above is directly connected to Clinton's email server, a login there could be disastrous, according to Robert Hansen, VP of security firm WhiteHat Labs:

    It might be the administrative console interface to the Windows machine or a backup. In that case, all mail could have been copied.

What's more troubling is the fact that, at least as of yesterday, the server at sslvpn has an invalid SSL certificate. Digital certificates are used to "sign" the encryption keys that servers and browsers use to establish encrypted communications. (The reason that hackers can't just vacuum the internet traffic between your browser and Google's Gmail servers and read your email is that your browser is encrypting the data to a public encryption key. The reason that you know that you are encrypting to Google's key and not to, say, the People's Liberation Army's, is that the Gmail servers have a digital certificate from a trusted third-party confirming that the key is theirs.)

When you attempt to access using Google's Chrome browser, this is what you see:

How Unsafe Was Hillary Clinton's Secret Staff Email System?

The apparent reason for that message is that the certificate used by Clinton's server is self-signed—verified by the authority that issued it, but not by a trusted third party—and therefore regarded by Google's Chrome browser as prima facie invalid. The government typically uses military-grade certificates and encryption schemes for its internal communications that designed with spying from foreign intelligence agencies in mind. But the setup? "If you're buying jam online," says Hansen, "you're fine." But for anything beyond consumer-grade browsing, it's a shoddy arrangement.

Security researcher Dave Kennedy of TrustedSec agrees: "It was done hastily and not locked down." Mediocre encryption from Clinton's outbox to a recipient (or vice versa) would leave all of her messages open to bulk collection by a foreign government or military. Or, if someone were able to copy the security certificate Clinton used, they could execute what's called a "man in the middle" attack, invisible eavesdropping on data. "It's highly likely that another person could simply extract the certificate and man in the middle any user of the system without any warnings whatsoever," Hansen said.

The invalid certificate would have also likely left Clinton vulnerable to widespread internet bugs like "Heartbleed," which was only discovered last spring, and may have let hackers copy the entire contents of the Clinton servers' memory. Inside that memory? Who knows: "It could very well have been a bunch of garbage," said Hansen, or "it could have been her full emails, passwords, and cookies." Heartbleed existed unnoticed for years. A little social engineering, Hansen said, could give attackers access to Clinton's DNS information, letting them route and reroute data to their own computers without anyone realizing. "It's a fairly small group of people who know how to do that," Hansen noted, but "it's not hard—it's just a lot of steps."
"It was done hastily and not locked down."

We don't know, of course, if the current state of Clinton's servers is representative of the security precautions that were in place while she was using it as Secretary of State. The system could have previously been hardened against attack, and left to get weedy and vulnerable after she left government. We don't know. But that's part of the problem—at the Department of State, there is accountability for the security of email systems. If we learned that State's email servers had been hacked or left needlessly vulnerable, there would be investigations and consequences. With Clinton's off-the-books scheme, there are only questions.

The final address behind ClintonEmail is a mail host,, which will kick back an error message when visited directly:

How Unsafe Was Hillary Clinton's Secret Staff Email System?

But if you plug in a different URL with the same mail server, you're presented with a user-friendly, familiar Outlook webmail login:

How Unsafe Was Hillary Clinton's Secret Staff Email System?

This is basically no more secure than the way you'd log into AOL, Facebook, or any other website. There's no evidence that Clinton (or her staffers) used this web interface to check their emails, as opposed to logging in through a smartphone or other email software. But its mere existence is troubling enough: there have been five separate security vulnerabilities identified with Outlook Web Access since was registered in 2009. These security bugs include doozies like "a flaw that may lead to an unauthorized information disclosure" (2010) and "a remote attacker can gain access to arbitrary files" (2014).

But even without exploiting software bugs, Hansen says leaving a public login page for something that's meant to be private is "pretty much the worst thing you can do." Clinton's Outlook form could've been susceptible to a brute force attack—where random combinations of words and characters are tried until one of them works—or an old fashioned denial of service assault. "Even if she had a particularly strong password," Hansen said, a brute force attack will "either work eventually—foreign militaries are very good at trying a lot—or it'll fail and block her from accessing her own email."

If Clinton had been using a government account, Hansen explained, her messages with colleagues would all be held within one relatively tidy system, monitored by the federal government. It's the difference between doing your laundry at home and dropping it off. But with a private account, you're introducing many separate points of failure; every single company in this custom system is a place to pry and attack. "Any joe hacker" could get inside with enough knowledge and time, according to Hansen.
"Pretty much the worst thing you can do."

Cubrilovic echoed Hansen's concern: "When you are a staffer in a government department, internal email never leaves the network that the department has physical control over," he told me. But "with externally hosted email every one of those messages would go out onto the internet," where they're subject to snooping.

Security researcher Kenn White agrees that private internet access stirs up too many dangerous variables while emails bounced from person to person:

    I think the bigger security concern here is the complete lack of visibility into who has been administering, backing up, maintaining, and accessing the Secretary's email. If classified documents were exchanged, who viewed them? Were they forwarded? Where multiple devices (ie, mobile phones and tablets) configured to access the account? Was encryption required or optional for remote access?

Cubrilovic agreed that opting out of the government's system is an awful idea for someone with a hacker bullseye on her back: "having a high profile target host their own email is a nightmare for information security staff working for the government," he told me, "since it can undo all of the other work they've done to secure their network." The kind of off-the-shelf email service it appears Clinton used comes with a lot of inherent risk, especially since a pillar of her job is overseas travel:

    With your own email hosting you're almost certainly going to be vulnerable to Chinese government style spearphishing attacks—which government departments have enough trouble stopping—but the task would be near impossible for an IT naive self-hosted setup.

While some of these hacking scenarios may sound outlandish or far-fetched, keep in mind that Clinton's emails would have been a prime target for some of the globe's most sophisticated state-sponsored cyberwarriors—the Chinese, the Israelis, the Iranians. The very existence of Clinton's private account was revealed by the hacker Guccifer, an unemployed Romanian taxi driver who managed to gain access to former Clinton aide Sidney Blumenthal's AOL account with relative ease. The Hillary account was reported by Gawker in 2013, and White House spokesman Eric Schultz used that story to argue that the Clinton email story was old news: "This was public years ago," he told Business Insider, linking to the 2013 Gawker story.

Which is another way of saying that foreign intelligence agencies have had two years to work on the target.

Photo: Getty
211  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Hillary on secret email accounts in the Bush WH, 2007 on: March 05, 2015, 03:39:25 PM
4th post of the day
212  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / SEcret Service "protecting" Hillary's server. on: March 05, 2015, 03:33:23 PM
Third post of the day
213  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / In amazing coincidence, Hillary's brother strikes it rich again. on: March 05, 2015, 03:28:24 PM
Hillary Rodham Clinton’s brother, Tony Rodham, sat on the board of a self-described mining company that in 2012 received one of only two “gold exploitation permits” from the Haitian government—the first issued in over 50 years.

The tiny North Carolina company, VCS Mining, also included on its board Bill Clinton’s co-chair of the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission (IHRC), former Haitian Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive.

The Rodham gold mine revelation is just one of dozens featured in a forthcoming bombshell investigative book by three-time New York Times bestselling author Peter Schweizer, according to a Thursday statement from publishing giant HarperCollins. The publisher says the book, Clinton Cash: The Untold Story of How and Why Foreign Governments and Businesses Helped Make Bill and Hillary Rich, is the culmination of an exhaustive one-year deep dive investigation into the nexus between the Clintons’ $100+ million personal wealth, the Clinton Foundation, and the decisions Hillary made as Secretary of State that benefited foreign donors, governments, and companies.

VCS’s coveted gold mining exploitation permit was apparently such a sweetheart deal that it outraged the Haitian senate, since royalties to be paid to the Haitian government were only 2.5%, a sum mining experts say is at least half the standard rate. Moreover, the mining project in Morne Bossa came with a generous ability to renew the project for up to 25 years. Nevertheless, the fledgling company proudly touted its luck in landing the deal.

“This is one of two permits issued today, the first permit of their kind issued in over five decades,” reads the only press release under VCS’s “news” tab on its scant website.

According to USAID, $3.1 billion have been dispersed since the 2010 Haiti earthquake.

Clinton Cash is said to contain “seismic” and “game-changing” revelations that far eclipse anything presently reported on the Clinton Foundation’s violation of its agreement not to accept foreign government money during Hillary’s tenure as secretary of state.

In 2011, Schweizer’s book Throw Them All Out exposed insider trading by members of Congress and became the subject of an award-winning CBS 60 Minutes story and “started the STOCK [Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge] Act stampede,” according to Slate.

“Bestselling author Peter Schweizer coins a new term to describe the unique way in which Bill and Hillary tend to mingle their political, personal and philanthropic interests: the ‘Clinton Blur,’” says HarperCollins editor Adam Bellow. “Schweizer’s scrupulously sourced and exhaustively researched book raises serious questions about the sources of the Clintons’ sudden wealth, their ethical judgment, and Hillary’s fitness for high public office.”

The book is slated to hit bookshelves nationwide May 5th.
214  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Serious Read: The New Reality on: March 05, 2015, 10:36:11 AM

By George Friedman

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is visiting the United States this week to speak to Congress on March 3. The Obama administration is upset that Speaker of the House John Boehner invited Netanyahu without consulting with the White House and charged Boehner with political grandstanding. Netanyahu said he was coming to warn the United States of the threat of Iran. Israeli critics of Netanyahu charged that this was a play for public approval to improve his position in Israel's general election March 17. Boehner denied any political intent beyond getting to hear Netanyahu's views. The Obama administration claimed that the speech threatens the fabric of U.S.-Israeli relations.

Let us begin with the obvious. First, this is a speech, and it is unlikely that Netanyahu could say anything new on the subject of Iran, given that he never stops talking about it. Second, everyone involved is grandstanding. They are politicians, and that's what they do. Third, the idea that U.S.-Israeli relations can be shredded by a grandstanding speech is preposterous. If that's all it takes, relations are already shredded.

Speeches aside, there is no question that U.S.-Israeli relations have been changing substantially since the end of the Cold War, and that change, arrested for a while after 9/11, has created distance and tension between the countries. Netanyahu's speech is merely a symptom of the underlying reality. There are theatrics, there are personal animosities, but presidents and prime ministers come and go. What is important are the interests that bind or separate nations, and the interests of Israel and the United States have to some extent diverged. It is the divergence of interests we must focus on, particularly because there is a great deal of mythology around the U.S.-Israeli relationship created by advocates of a close relationship, opponents of the relationship, and foreign enemies of one or both countries.
Building the U.S.-Israeli Relationship

It is important to begin by understanding that the United States and Israel did not always have a close relationship. While the United States recognized Israel from the beginning, its relationship was cool until after the Six-Day War in 1967. When Israel, along with Britain and France, invaded Egypt in 1956, the United States demanded Israel's withdrawal from Sinai and Gaza, and the Israelis complied. The United States provided no aid for Israel except for food aid given through a U.N. program that served many nations. The United States was not hostile to Israel, nor did it regard its relationship as crucial.

This began to change before the 1967 conflict, after pro-Soviet coups in Syria and Iraq by Baathist parties. Responding to this threat, the United States created a belt of surface-to-air missiles stretching from Saudi Arabia to Jordan and Israel in 1965. This was the first military aid given to Israel, and it was intended to be part of a system to block Soviet power. Until 1967, Israel's weapons came primarily from France. Again, the United States had no objection to this relationship, nor was it a critical issue to Washington.

The Six-Day War changed this. After the conflict, the French, wanting to improve relations with the Arabs, cut off weapons sales to Israel. The United States saw Egypt become a Soviet naval and air base, along with Syria. This threatened the U.S. Sixth Fleet and other interests in the eastern Mediterranean. In particular, the United States was concerned about Turkey because the Bosporus in Soviet hands would open the door to a significant Soviet challenge in the Mediterranean and Southern Europe. Turkey was now threatened not only from the north but also from the south by Syria and Iraq. The Iranians, then U.S. allies, forced the Iraqis to face east rather than north. The Israelis forced the Syrians to focus south. Once the French pulled out of their relationship with Israel and the Soviets consolidated their positions in Egypt and Syria in the wake of the Six-Day War, the United States was forced into a different relationship with Israel.

It has been said that the 1967 war and later U.S. support for Israel triggered Arab anti-Americanism. It undoubtedly deepened anti-American sentiment among the Arabs, but it was not the trigger. Egypt became pro-Soviet in 1956 despite the U.S. intervention against Israel, while Syria and Iraq became pro-Soviet before the United States began sending military aid to Israel. But after 1967, the United States locked into a strategic relationship with Israel and became its primary source of military assistance. This support surged during the 1973 Arab-Israeli War, with U.S. assistance rising from roughly 5 percent of Israeli gross domestic product to more than 20 percent a year later.

The United States was strategically dependent on Israel to maintain a balance of power in the eastern Mediterranean. But even during this period, the United States had competing strategic interests. For example, as part of encouraging a strategic reversal into the U.S. camp after the 1973 war, the United States negotiated an Israeli withdrawal from Sinai that the Israelis were extremely reluctant to do but could not avoid under U.S. pressure. Similarly, U.S. President Ronald Reagan opposed an Israeli invasion of Lebanon that reached Beirut, and the initial U.S. intervention in Lebanon was not against Arab elements but intended to block Israel. There was a strategic dependence on Israel, but it was never a simple relationship.

The Israelis' national security requirements have always outstripped their resources. They had to have an outside patron. First it was the Soviets via Czechoslovakia, then France, then the United States. They could not afford to alienate the United States — the essential foundation of their national security — but neither could they simply comply with American wishes. For the United States, Israel was an important asset. It was far from the only important asset. The United States had to reconcile its support of Israel with its support of Saudi Arabia, as an example. Israel and the Saudis were part of an anti-Soviet coalition, but they had competing interests, shown when the United States sold airborne warning and control systems to the Saudis. The Israelis both needed the United States and chafed under the limitations Washington placed on them.
Post-Soviet Relations

The collapse of the Soviet Union destroyed the strategic foundation for the U.S.-Israeli relationship. There was no pressing reason to end it, but it began to evolve and diverge. The fall of the Soviet Union left Syria and Iraq without a patron. Egypt's U.S.-equipped army, separated from Israel by a demilitarized Sinai and token American peacekeepers, posed no threat. Jordan was a key ally of Israel. The United States began seeing the Mediterranean and Middle East in totally different ways. Israel, for the first time since its founding, didn't face any direct threat of attack. In addition, Israel's economy surged, and U.S. aid, although it remained steady, became far less important to Israel than it was. In 2012, U.S. assistance ($2.9 billion) accounted for just more than 1 percent of Israel's GDP.

Both countries had more room to maneuver than they'd had previously. They were no longer locked into a relationship with each other, and their relationship continued as much out of habit as out of interest. The United States had no interest in Israel creating settlements in the West Bank, but it wasn't interested enough in stopping them to risk rupturing the relationship. The Israelis were no longer so dependent on the United States that they couldn't risk its disapproval.

The United States and Israel drew together initially after 9/11. From the Israeli perspective, the attacks proved that the United States and Israel had a common interest against the Islamic world. The U.S. response evolved into a much more complex form, particularly as it became apparent that U.S. forces in Afghanistan and Iraq were not going to pacify either country. The United States needed a strategy that would prevent jihadist attacks on the homeland, and that meant intelligence cooperation not only with the Israelis but also with Islamic countries hostile to Israel. This was the old problem. Israel wanted the United States focused on Israel as its main partner, but the United States had much wider and more complex relations to deal with in the region that required a more nuanced approach.

This is the root of the divergence on Iran. From Israel's point of view, the Iranians pose an inherent threat regardless of how far along they are — or are not — with their nuclear program. Israel wants the United States aligned against Iran. Now, how close Tehran is to a nuclear weapon is an important question, but to Israel, however small the nuclear risk, it cannot be tolerated because Iran's ideology makes it an existential threat.
The Iran Problem

From the American perspective, the main question about Iran is, assuming it is a threat, can it be destroyed militarily? The Iranians are not fools. They observed the ease with which the Israelis destroyed the Iraqi nuclear reactor in 1981. They buried theirs deep underground. It is therefore not clear, regardless of how far along it is or what its purpose is, that the United States could destroy Iran's nuclear program from the air. It would require, at the very least, special operations on the ground, and failing that, military action beyond U.S. capabilities. Aside from the use of nuclear weapons, it is unclear that an attack on multiple hardened sites would work.

The Israelis are quite aware of these difficulties. Had it been possible to attack, and had the Israelis believed what they were saying, the Israelis would have attacked. The distances are great, but there are indications that countries closer to Iran and also interested in destroying Iran's nuclear program would have allowed the use of their territories. Yet the Israelis did not attack.

The American position is that, lacking a viable military option and uncertain as to the status of Iran's program, the only option is to induce Iran to curtail the program. Simply maintaining permanent sanctions does not end whatever program there is. Only an agreement with Iran trading the program for an end of sanctions would work. From the American point of view, the lack of a military option requires a negotiation. The Israeli position is that Iran cannot be trusted. The American position is that in that case, there are no options.

Behind this is a much deeper issue. Israel of course understands the American argument. What really frightens the Israelis is an emerging American strategy. Having failed to pacify Afghanistan or Iraq, the United States has come to the conclusion that wars of occupation are beyond American capacity. It is prepared to use air power and very limited ground forces in Iraq, for example. However, the United States does not see itself as having the option of bringing decisive force to bear.
An Intricate U.S. Strategy

Therefore, the United States has a double strategy emerging. The first layer is to keep its distance from major flare-ups in the region, providing support but making clear it will not be the one to take primary responsibility. As the situation on the ground deteriorates, the United States expects these conflicts to eventually compel regional powers to take responsibility. In the case of Syria and Iraq, for example, the chaos is on the border of Turkey. Let Turkey live with it, or let Turkey send its own troops in. If that happens, the United States will use limited force to support them. A similar dynamic is playing out with Jordan and the Gulf Cooperation Council states as Saudi Arabia tries to assume responsibility for Sunni Arab interests in the face of a U.S-Iranian entente. Importantly, this rapprochement with Iran is already happening against the Islamic State, which is an enemy of both the United States and Iran. I am not sure we would call what is happening collaboration, but there is certainly parallel play between Iran and the United States.

The second layer of this strategy is creating a balance of power. The United States wants regional powers to deal with issues that threaten their interests more than American interests. At the same time, the United States does not want any one country to dominate the region. Therefore, it is in the American interest to have multiple powers balancing each other. There are four such powers: Turkey, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Israel. Some collaborate, some are hostile, and some shift over time. The United States wants to get rid of Iran's weapons, but it does not want to shatter the country. It is part of a pattern of regional responsibility and balance.

This is the heart of Israel's problem. It has always been a pawn in U.S. strategy, but a vital pawn. In this emerging strategy, with multiple players balancing each other and the United States taking the minimum possible action to maintain the equilibrium, Israel finds itself in a complex relationship with three countries that it cannot be sure of managing by itself. By including Iran in this mix, the United States includes what Israel regards as an unpredictable element not solely because of the nuclear issue but because Iran's influence stretches to Syria and Lebanon and imposes costs and threats Israel wants to avoid.

This has nothing to do with the personalities of Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu. The United States has shown it cannot pacify countries with available forces. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting a different outcome. If the United States is not involved on the ground in a conflict, then it becomes a problem for regional powers to handle. If the regional powers take the roles they must, they should balance against each other without a single regional hegemon emerging.

Israel does not want to be considered by the United States as one power among many. It is focused on the issue of a nuclear Iran, but it knows that there is no certainty that Iran's nuclear facilities can be destroyed or that sanctions will cause the Iranians to abandon the nuclear program. What Israel fears is an entente between the United States and Iran and a system of relations in which U.S. support will not be automatic.

So a speech will be made. Obama and Netanyahu are supposed to dislike each other. Politicians are going to be elected and jockey for power. All of this is true, and none of it matters. What does matter is that the United States, regardless of who is president, has to develop a new strategy in the region. This is the only option other than trying to occupy Syria and Iraq. Israel, regardless of who is prime minister, does not want to be left as part of this system while the United States maintains ties with all the other players along with Israel. Israel doesn't have the weight to block this strategy, and the United States has no alternative but to pursue it.

This isn't about Netanyahu and Obama, and both know it. It is about the reconfiguration of a region the United States cannot subdue and cannot leave. It is the essence of great power strategy: creating a balance of power in which the balancers are trapped into playing a role they don't want. It is not a perfect strategy, but it is the only one the United States has. Israel is not alone in not wanting this. Turkey, Iran and Saudi Arabia don't want it, either. But geopolitics is indifferent to wishes. It understands only imperatives and constraints.
215  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Chinese Businessman, Nicaragua, and a new canal? on: March 05, 2015, 09:44:12 AM

The idea of a canal across Nicaragua, easing transit flows between the Pacific and the Atlantic, is as old as the country itself. But despite numerous surveys and plans across the centuries, no Nicaraguan canal has ever been shown to be economically viable for the investors. The United States, European and numerous Asian countries and companies have explored both "wet" and "dry" canals — the latter utilize rail between ports on both sides of the isthmus.

Lately a Chinese businessman has been exploring the idea. His efforts have raised similar questions to previous attempts: Is a canal in Nicaragua economically sound, environmentally responsible or even necessary, particularly given the near completion of the widening of the Panama Canal? The answers are mixed and often depend who is doing the assessment and from what perspective. The man behind the attempt, Wang Jing, may no longer be sure of the answers himself.

Questions aside, the Nicaraguan government has approved the plans and is promoting the construction and affiliated investment. As the man at the forefront of the operation, Wang is preparing not only to have the canal dug (and managed) but also to build the affiliated infrastructure — port expansion and telecommunications projects as well as tourism and real estate deals along the canal route. Money is already flowing, environmental studies are underway, Western public relations and accounting firms have been hired, and early assessments and visits are being made to determine the cost and difficulty of buying up land along the route, often meeting opposition from locals. All the while, the cost estimates for the canal construction continue to rise; they are currently at upward of $50 billion and by some estimates are likely to reach $100 billion.

Money spent upfront on surveys and even early moves to purchase land do not mean the canal will be completed, just as the economic and environmental obstacles do not necessarily mean the canal will stall out before completion. The world is littered with hero projects that, in retrospect, perhaps would have been better left unbuilt or at least proved more costly for their investors than anticipated. But the construction and plans have raised numerous questions about who is really behind the canal project.

The Investor

Wang Jing, chairman and CEO of the Hong Kong Nicaraguan Canal Development Group (HKND), which has the contract to build, develop and manage the Nicaraguan canal, is one of China's richest men, worth some $6.6 billion according to Forbes. He has been involved in telecommunications and mineral operations, though by most accounts he owes his fortune more to good luck and timing than through connections with Beijing.

Wang established HKND in August 2012, one month after the Nicaraguan government established its Grand Interoceanic Canal Authority, which paved the way for realistic investment into a canal project. A month after it was established, HKND had a memorandum of understanding with the Nicaraguan government to conduct the feasibility study for the canal project. In June 2013, the Nicaraguan legislature formally voted to approve the construction of the canal, and within days the contract was awarded to HKND.

Wang's involvement in the canal appears to stem from a meeting with the son of Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega, whom he met with either in Nicaragua or Beijing. Wang was looking to expand his telecom business into Nicaragua as part of broader global expansion, and his company, Xinwei, acquired contracts in 2013, though there has been little work reported toward fulfillment of those contracts. Rather, amid discussions with Ortega's son, Wang became enamored with the opportunity for a Nicaraguan canal that, he hoped, would carry massive bulk cargo ships from Brazil to China — ships that were too big for the Panama Canal and, incidentally, were in some cases blocked from Chinese ports because of their size and Chinese concerns for maritime shipping competitiveness.

A Nicaraguan canal may make more sense for international traders than it does for its potential investors. Though most studies argue that investors are guaranteed to lose in the canal construction, if the canal is built and managed efficiently, it does offer complementary routes for trade between Asia and the East Coast of North America, something that could interest shipping companies given the perception of unreliability of United States' West Coast ports. It also could provide speedier passage of bulk cargoes from Latin America, particularly Brazil, to Asia (read China), and as a redundant route, may ease congestion in the Panama Canal.

But the canal itself is not the only prize. Wang's vision includes the expansion of Nicaraguan ports, the establishment of new tourism venues to rival nearby Costa Rica, and the creation of new free trade zones in Nicaragua to take advantage of its location for manufacturing and distribution. With China slowly losing its place as the primary source of international low-end manufacturing, a Chinese-backed free trade zone in Nicaragua could take advantage of regional low labor costs and the nearness to larger Mexican, South American and U.S. markets. Stratfor counts Nicaragua among our so-called Post-China 16 countries, those positioned to take advantage of the changes in global manufacturing supply chains. The canal fits with the desires of Nicaragua's president, but the add-ons are potentially the more significant prize for Wang and his fellow investors.

Wang has not had an easy time drawing in the financial backing that a project of this magnitude needs. Already he has spent by some estimates more than $5 billion of his own money as well as that of his family and friends, whom he solicited early to capitalize the project. Some major state-owned enterprises have steered clear of the project, including major Chinese shipping companies (COSCO for example already has a stake in the Panama Canal). But others, particularly construction companies looking for large projects overseas, have expressed interest or engaged in a partnership with HKND, and HKND is urging those companies to become partners, bringing with them their own financing. In this way, HKND can spread the cost and potentially still profit from a canal project that others before had determined would not turn a profit.

Interestingly, despite the obvious questions about Wang and Chinese involvement, the Chinese government does not seem to be involved directly. Wang has worked somewhat outside the normal channels of Chinese political networks, and Beijing has been cautious about the project from the start. Beijing has no formal diplomatic relations with Nicaragua; rather, Nicaragua is one of the few nations left that maintains formal recognition of Taiwan. In 2012, as news of the canal construction heated up, the Chinese Ministry of Commerce cautioned Chinese companies, noting the lack of diplomatic ties in addition to border issues between Nicaragua and Costa Rica. Beijing is not interested at this time in drawing Nicaragua to alter diplomatic relations to the mainland, since that would undermine Beijing's management of the Taiwan issue.

Furthermore, though Beijing has backed many economic projects in Latin America and has special economic and political relations with countries such as Venezuela, Chinese leaders are cautious about engaging in a project that clearly appears to challenge U.S. interests in the region — particularly given the high cost and minimal rewards of the Nicaraguan canal. Wang himself purportedly tried to gain U.S. backing and investment through contact with former U.S. officials, but found little support. Publicly serving U.S. officials have actually raised concerns about the project, though primarily for environmental reasons.

One of the reasons the Chinese government was cautious was the belief that the canal project would not be viable without U.S. support, or at least without avoiding U.S. opposition. With Beijing facing difficulties at home regarding its overall economy and the parallel anti-corruption campaign and consolidation of power under President Xi Jinping, there is little appetite among China's leaders to pick a fight with the United States in its own backyard over a project that appears to bring little gain while being fraught with political risk.

According to some people familiar with the situation, Wang is now having second thoughts about the entire project as well. Having already thrown in some $5 billion, however, it would be difficult for Wang and HKND to back out. Without the more active backing of the Chinese government, or at least a surge in interest by potential partners, HKND is likely to find it increasingly difficult to raise the money for the canal project. Environmental opposition will probably grow and may draw in international organizations to support the local population. And this does not even consider some of the physical obstacles of such a massive undertaking.

The Nicaraguan government has based a lot of its future economic projections on the projects related to the canal construction and affiliated investments, and that is riding on Wang's company and his ability to raise the funds and support necessary to bring the project to completion. But by most accounts, Wang does not have the political or economic backing of Beijing, certainly not formally and perhaps not at all. Perhaps the attention will shift to the affiliated development — the ports, the free trade zones and the tourism facilities. But whether the entirety of the project itself is ultimately completed, the renewed attention to a Nicaraguan canal, and to Nicaragua itself, emphasizes the changes in international attention to areas of the world picking up as the next manufacturing hubs.
216  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / So much for that defense , , , on: March 05, 2015, 09:41:43 AM
second post 
217  DBMA Espanol / Espanol Discussion / Re: esgrima de machete colombiana on: March 05, 2015, 09:33:44 AM
218  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / The World retains its ability to surprise 2.0 on: March 05, 2015, 09:28:51 AM

219  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / The apologists give it a go on: March 05, 2015, 09:27:38 AM
What Might Have Motivated Hillary Clinton To Use Personal Email"

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U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton checks her mobile phone after her address to the Security Council at United Nations headquarters, Monday, March 12, 2012. The bloody conflict in Syria is likely to dominate public and private talks Monday as key ministers meet at the United Nations on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and challenges from the Arab Spring.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton checks her mobile phone after her address to the Security Council at United Nations headquarters.

CREDIT: AP Photo/Richard Drew

I love this story from the New York Times about Hillary Clinton using her personal email account for official Secretary of State business because it points to a serious fracture in transparency’s goals, its implementations and IT policy in Government. Take this choice quote from Thomas Blanton, the Director of the National Security Archive:

    “Personal emails are not secure,” he said. “Senior officials should not be using them.”

Are you serious? Let’s be clear, that personal email was probably far more secure than her email account. The State Department’s email system has been compromised for months. It’s highly likely that it’s been compromised since forever: remember, during her tenure, Wikileaks released the State Department’s classified communications.

A better question is: why would she use the State Department’s email system to conduct official business? In fact, if it’s demonstrably insecure, does she not have a responsibility not to use it? It’s probably the case that if Hillary Clinton was focusing solely on security, using her personal email with 2 Factor Authentication was probably way more secure than using the honeypot mess of IT that is the State Department’s email servers.

But more importantly, let’s talk about records. As the former director of Sunlight Labs at the Sunlight Foundation, it’s a cause I care about. That’s the important bit. I don’t believe Hillary Clinton was actively working to hide her communication from the public. I think she was looking for the easiest way to do her job. The one thing you have to understand about people in public service is people down to the lowest levels of public service understand open records laws, and they all know one thing: if you don’t want something on the record, don’t use email. Pick up the phone. Hillary Clinton knows that, too.

Hillary Clinton was trying to use what she wanted to use in order to do her job. As a former fed, I’m empathetic. When you start at the Federal Government, it’s often like stepping in a time machine. You’re handed technology from years ago and (especially at her level) you’re expected to do tomorrow’s work. Often faced with a choice: do I do the job I was hired to do, or do I uphold and obey the archiving laws. And usually (thankfully) “do the job” wins.

This is because the way our Federal IT shops tend to implement IT policy isn’t through service, it’s through the prescription of antiquated technology. Rather than investing in cloud managed solutions, the feds prefer you to carry around a laptop that can log into a virtual desktop computer that’s often located inside of the basement of an agency. Then, if you’re not in the office, as the Secretary of State often isn’t, you can crank up Outlook, and check your mail. Maybe. If you’ve got the right authentication token with you.

And so you sit there and go “golly, this person needs to hear from me right now, before I go into my next meeting,” and more often than not, you just pop open your gmail, and bang out your quick email because it’s easier and you need to get the job done. Often times, our political leaders are not kind enough to save them and turn them over to the public record as Hillary Clinton did. Sometimes they just delete the messages.

I hope as a result of this, a crackdown doesn’t happen (but it will). The right solution here isn’t to get more stringent on the archiving stuff, it’s to make the archiving and sunlight stuff in service to the job. The IT department should be saying “what tools do you need in order to do your job in the best way that you see fit” and working backwards from that in order to prevent this sort of thing from becoming as common as it actually is.

Instead of forcing people to use a 2010 blackberry and lotus notes to check their email through a VNC firewall that takes 10 minutes to log into (that, by the way, is demonstrably insecure anyway, compromising not only national security, but also the integrity of the archives in the first place), why not fix that policy, make it easy for people to use the tools they need to use in order to do their jobs, and use some archiving technology from, say, 2010 in order to handle it. The trick here isn’t “make people comply with strong authority,” it’s “make compliance easier, and of service to the people that need to do a job other than recordkeeping”

One final thought: I’d imagine Secretary Clinton at some point emailed the White House. I made the mistake of emailing the White House from my personal account once (!) during my term, and managed to get back a nastygram from Counsel about it. How or why didn’t the White House tell Hillary to use her official .gov email account?

It could be that they knew the entire classified and unclassified email system was compromised and decided that the smartest thing to do was for her to use her personal email instead.

Clay Johnson is a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress and the author of The Information Diet. This post originally appeared on Medium.
220  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Middle East: War, Peace, and SNAFU, TARFU, and FUBAR on: March 05, 2015, 09:04:30 AM
A glaring omission to not discuss Iran's nukes, but Stratfor is never stupid.

A Middle Eastern Balance of Power Emerges
Geopolitical Diary
March 3, 2015 | 23:32 GMT
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The battle lines of the Middle East are changing. The chaotic force of the Islamic State has pushed the region's major powers — Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Iran — to rethink decades-old relationships and regional strategies. Nowhere is this more apparent than the Syrian-Iraqi battleground, where a sectarian proxy battle has been the incubator for an emerging balance of power. Though it may look messy on the surface, this dynamic falls in line with the United States' long-term strategy for the region.

Many have criticized Washington's decision not to take a more direct role in containing the violence in Syria or to rely on local forces to combat the Islamic State in Iraq. But the United States' global geopolitical imperatives necessitate a balance of power in the Middle East in which regional actors shoulder more of the burden of managing their problems. Washington's refusal to be dragged back into another ground war in the Middle East is slowly bearing fruit, as Turkey is cautiously re-entering its former sphere of influence along its southern flank, counterbalancing the Saudi-Iranian competition that has fueled much of the violence destabilizing the Middle East.

We wrote last week about Egypt's attempts to craft an Arab response to regional pressures, focused specifically against the Islamic State and other regional militant groups threatening Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi's administration. Cairo lacks the geopolitical heft to shape outcomes in Syria or Iraq, let alone region-wide change. Egypt nevertheless is a crucial part of a broader attempt by Saudi Arabia, using its role in both the Arab and Sunni worlds, to reach out to Turkey in combatting both the Islamic State and an emergent Iran. The challenges are plenty, and regional Sunni cohesion may well prove as elusive as a stable Pan-Arab military alliance. If nothing else Saudi outreach has helped finish what the United States began: pushing Ankara to take a stronger role in the region.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and a delegation of Turkish politicians arrived in Riyadh this past Monday to meet with their Saudi counterparts, including new Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz. Few details of the discussions were announced, but both sides agreed to work together on Syria. The meetings, as well as the agreement, represent a marked shift in the relations between the Middle East's two main Sunni powers. Turkish foreign policy (especially under the leadership of Erdogan and his Justice and Development Party) has favored mainstream Islamists, to the consternation of the Saudi government under former King Abdullah. Saudi Arabia still views the Muslim Brotherhood and other Sunni Islamist democratization movements as threat to its long-term national stability, but the concurrent threats of the Islamic State and Iran call for a shift in tactics.

Saudi Arabia has also re-engaged Qatar — a state that, like Turkey, supports mainstream Islamists. This support has put them at odds with Riyadh and, at times, broadly in line with Iran (such as the three countries' opposition to the ouster of Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi in 2013). There are growing indications that Riyadh, Ankara and Doha now working together and supporting similar groups of rebels in Syria, in contrast to backing (sometimes violently) competing rebel forces. Especially in northern Syria, along the border with Turkey, groups like Jabhat al-Shamiya are beginning to enjoy a wider base of regional support, as Gulf actors are continuing to scale back support for more right-wing Salafist-jihadist rebel actors such as Jabhat al-Nusra.

In neighboring Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Jordan are working with disaffected Sunni Arab tribesmen to expand the Iraqi coalition battling the Islamic State, even as Turkey works with both Kurdish forces and Baghdad to strengthen Iraq's anti-Islamic State positions. This Sunni cooperation is not without its challenges, however. Both Turkey and Saudi Arabia would like to shape the futures of Syria and Iraq according to their own strategic interests, and Riyadh and Ankara are ultimately competitors for influence in the region. Both also have to deal with Iran.

Iran's influence over its western periphery has ebbed and flowed for some 2,500 years. However, since the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003, Iran has been able to consolidate relationships in Iraq to create a Shiite arc of influence from its borders to the eastern Mediterranean. Iraq is the crux to Iran's Middle East strategy; it can serve as the launch pad for Iranian influence into the Arab world or, as it has so many times in history, serve as the staging grounds for a foreign invasion of Iran. It makes sense then that Iran has stepped up its direct military involvement in Iraq over the past week, with Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps forces participating with Iranian-backed Shiite militias, Iraqi army forces and a limited number of Sunni tribal elements in the battle for Tikrit.

Along with long-standing Iranian and Shiite backing of Syrian President Bashar al Assad government (Syria historically served as a critical route for Iranian material support to Hezbollah), Iran has increased its military presence across both Syria and Iraq in fighting the Islamic State. Whereas Turkey and Saudi Arabia are attempting to expand their influence into both states, Iran has been forced into a defensive position, seeking to retain elements of the influence it enjoyed in the period between the U.S. invasion of Iraq and the unrest of 2011's Arab Spring. This strategic reversal is one of the factors pushing Tehran to negotiate with the United States to help gain recognition of its footholds in the Arab world and safeguard its status as a regional power, albeit a weak one.

As the threat posed by the Islamic State gives rise to a tenuous working relationship between Ankara and Riyadh, the U.S. plan for a regional balance of power involves changing more than three decades of strained relations with its former ally, Iran. Iran's direct involvement in the battle for Tikrit raises questions over the eventual battle for Mosul, where Shiite militias are slowly increasing their presence and the United States plans to assist Kurdish and Iraqi forces in the fight against the Islamic State.

Coordinating with Iran is an incentive for the United States. Still, Washington cannot see Iran too weakened (or assertive), and direct competition between Tehran and Riyadh poses too great a risk of regional destabilization — necessitating a greater Turkish role in the region. And so we see the battle lines converging, overlapping and blending into an emerging balance of power.
221  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: US Economics, the stock market , and other investment/savings strategies on: March 05, 2015, 09:01:48 AM
The Morning Ledger: U.S. Capital Spending Set to Grow

James Willhite
The Morning Ledger from CFO Journal cues up the most important news in corporate finance every weekday morning. Send us tips, suggestions and complaints: Get The Morning Ledger emailed to you each weekday morning by clicking Follow us on Twitter @CFOJournal.
Good morning. Big U.S. businesses are anticipating that the economy will continue to grow for some time, and many of them are finally putting their money where their mouth is, the WSJ’s Theo Francis reports. Large companies across the U.S. are gearing up to improve tactical radio systems, expand distribution centers, produce more crackers and refurbish hotel rooms—all signs of increased business investment that could give another boost to the strengthening economy.
Aging business models and equipment are running into limits on their growth, but the new confidence has many of them taking the plunge with significant capital investments. All told, capital investment rose 15% in the fourth quarter to a five-year high of $166 billion, the third-fastest rise since early 2010.
“In terms of all the fundamentals, it looks pretty good still, so why wait?” said Gee Lingberg, a vice president at Host Hotels & Resorts Inc. With occupancy at 14-year highs, Host Hotels is more than doubling its spending on major projects, to as much as $260 million in 2015 from $112 million last year. “Now that the economy is getting stronger, even with a slight uptick in supply, demand should be able to exceed that.”
222  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / POTH: US increasingly dependent upon Iran in Iraq on: March 05, 2015, 08:25:02 AM
WASHINGTON — At a time when President Obama is under political pressure from congressional Republicans over negotiations to rein in Tehran’s nuclear ambitions, a startling paradox has emerged: Mr. Obama is becoming increasingly dependent on Iranian fighters as he tries to contain the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria without committing American ground troops.

In the four days since Iranian troops joined 30,000 Iraqi forces to try to wrest Saddam Hussein’s hometown of Tikrit back from Islamic State control, American officials have said the United States is not coordinating with Iran, one of its fiercest global foes, in the fight against a common enemy.

That may be technically true. But American war planners have been closely monitoring Iran’s parallel war against the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, through a range of channels, including conversations on radio frequencies that each side knows the other is monitoring. And the two militaries frequently seek to avoid conflict in their activities by using Iraqi command centers as an intermediary.

As a result, many national security experts say, Iran’s involvement is helping the Iraqis hold the line against Islamic State advances until American military advisers are finished training Iraq’s underperforming armed forces.

“The only way in which the Obama administration can credibly stick with its strategy is by implicitly assuming that the Iranians will carry most of the weight and win the battles on the ground,” said Vali R. Nasr, a former special adviser to Mr. Obama who is now dean of the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University. “You can’t have your cake and eat it too — the U.S. strategy in Iraq has been successful so far largely because of Iran.”

It was Iran that organized Iraq’s Shiite militias last August to break a weeklong Islamic State siege of Amerli, a cluster of farming villages whose Shiite residents faced possible slaughter. American bombs provided support from warplanes.

Administration officials were careful to note at the time that the United States was working in Amerli with its allies — namely Iraqi Army units and Kurdish security forces. A senior administration official said that “any coordinating with the Shiite militias was not done by us; it would have been done by the I.S.F.,” a reference to the Iraqi security forces.

It was also Iran’s Quds Force that backed Iraq’s Shiite militias and Iraqi security forces in November to liberate the central city of Baiji from the Islamic State, breaking the siege of a nearby oil refinery. (A month later, the Islamic State took back a part of the city.)

And last summer, when Islamic State militants first captured Mosul and got within striking distance of the Kurdish capital, Erbil, the head of Iran’s Quds Force, Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani, flew to Erbil with two planes full of military supplies, American and regional diplomats said. The Iranian move helped to bolster Kurdish defenses around Erbil, the officials said.

In Tikrit this week, Iranian-backed Shiite militia leaders said that their fighters made up more than two-thirds of the pro-government force of 30,000. They also said that General Suleimani, the Iranian spymaster, was helping to lead from near the front line.

Websites supporting the militias circulated photographs of General Suleimani on Wednesday drinking tea on what was said to be the front line, dressed in black and holding his glass in one hand and a floral patterned saucer in the other.

The presence of General Suleimani — a reviled figure in American security and military circles because he once directed a deadly campaign against American forces in Iraq — makes it difficult for the United States to conduct airstrikes to assist in the Tikrit operation, as it might like, foreign policy experts said.

“There’s just no way that the U.S. military can actively support an offensive led by Suleimani,” said Christopher Harmer, a former aviator in the United States Navy in the Persian Gulf who is now an analyst with the Institute for the Study of War. “He’s a more stately version of Osama bin Laden.”

But the United States strategy in Iraq can benefit from Iran’s effort to take back Tikrit from the Islamic State, even if it is not involved directly. Appearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday, Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said that the involvement of Iranian-backed Shiites in Tikrit could be “a positive thing” provided it did not exacerbate sectarian tension.

“This is the most overt conduct of Iranian support, in the form of artillery and other things,” General Dempsey said. “Frankly, it will only be a problem if it results in sectarianism.”

But that is a big worry. In the past — notably just after the withdrawal of American troops from Iraq in 2011 — Shiite militias have been accused of atrocities against Sunnis. And in January, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi ordered an investigation into accusations that Shiite militiamen massacred 70 people in Diyala Province after pro-government forces expelled Islamic State militants.

This week, Republican lawmakers warned that Iran’s influence in Iraq would increase with the Tikrit offensive. “We share the president’s goal to degrade and defeat ISIL,” Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona, and Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina, said in a statement Tuesday. “But success in this mission will not be achieved by capitulating to Iran’s ambitions for regional hegemony.”

Landon Shroder, an intelligence analyst for corporations in Iraq who was in Baghdad last summer when Mosul fell, countered that the worry that Iran will gain influence in Iraq ignores the reality that Iran’s Shiite government is already a key Iraqi ally.

“By this stage, everybody who observed what happened in Iraq with the Islamic State should know that the main influencer in Iraq is Iran,” he said in a telephone interview on Wednesday. “That’s an unpopular perception in the United States, after spending so much money and lives lost in the conflict, but it’s reality.”

Mr. Shroder said that at the moment, the only force with the ability to bring Kurdish troops, the Iraqi Army and the Shiite militias together to fight the Islamic State is Iran.

Rafid Jaboori, the spokesman for Mr. Abadi, the Iraqi prime minister, said in an interview Wednesday that Iraq had urged the United States and Iran not to play out their bilateral conflict in Iraq’s battle against the Islamic State.

“So far in general there was no clash within the two,” Mr. Jaboori said.

He drew a comparison to World War II. “Countries with different ideologies, different priorities, different systems of government, cooperated to defeat the Nazis,” he said. “It’s foreseeable that we see countries which might not get along very well in terms of their bilateral relations working to help Iraq to defeat this threat.”
223  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Washibngton, Farewell Address, Separation of Powers 1796 on: March 05, 2015, 08:22:20 AM
"The necessity of reciprocal checks in the exercise of political power, by dividing and distributing it into different depositories, and constituting each the guardian of the public weal against invasions by the others, has been evinced by experiments ancient and modern, some of them in our country and under our own eyes." --George Washington, Farewell Address, 1796
224  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Israel, and its neighbors on: March 04, 2015, 09:26:22 PM
His articulation of what Bibi said is good-- about expiration of sanctions upon behavior modification-- this is something most people missed.

225  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: Real Life Double Blade Duel in the Phillipines on: March 04, 2015, 07:27:56 PM
Outstanding find Tony!

Of course youtube or similar sites are preferred to FB, and it sure is a shame how pixilated this is, but an outstanding find nonetheless and we are grateful.

I do have a few observations, but I think I would like to let others witness and assess first.
226  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Wesbury: Don't audit the Fed, reign it in. on: March 04, 2015, 02:26:24 PM
Don’t Audit It: Reign It In

Some in Congress want to “Audit the Fed.” But an audit, unless the word is used in a very broad sense, would be redundant and basically irrelevant. The Fed is already audited, by Deloitte & Touche LLP and it releases an annual report that includes the auditor’s opinion, each year.

Wild-eyed conspiracy theories have cropped up that suggest the Fed may not actually own the bonds it says it does or that it pays too much to certain banks when buying them. But none of this is true; there is no evil accounting going on. In a financial sense the Fed is almost certainly squeaky clean. The Fed doesn’t need another audit, what it needs is more responsible and effective oversight from Congress, a smaller balance sheet and less ability to interfere with private business decisions.

The Fed has become the biggest financial entity in the world, with bond holdings that have ballooned to $4.25 trillion. Fed assets, six years after the Panic of 2008 ended, exceed the annual budget of the US government and are equal to 24% of GDP.

During the Great Depression, 1930-39, the Fed’s balance sheet averaged 13.2% of GDP. It peaked at the end of the Depression, in 1940, at 16% of GDP and then averaged 12.6% from 1941-45, during World War II. If the Great Depression and WWII didn’t require balance sheets as large as the current one, then something has gone terribly awry.

What’s interesting is that during the boom years of the 1980s and 1990s, the Fed’s balance sheet averaged 5.2% of GDP. So, it’s impossible to make the case that the Fed needs such a large balance sheet in order for the economy to create jobs with low inflation.

Lest we forget, Congress already has oversight of the Fed, and the past six years happened under its watch. Only a few members of Congress have enough knowledge of monetary policy to be effective at oversight. The same is true of voters. The Fed typically wins political battles because most people find monetary policy boring, complicated and difficult to grasp.

Nonetheless, the simple fact that the Fed is bigger, more powerful and more intrusive than ever imagined by any of its creators in Congress suggests that the Fed needs to answer more questions from more people. This does not mean the press, which has a conflict of interest, due to the fact that it wants access. Critical questioning risks losing access.

Moreover, the Fed is about to embark on a rate hiking campaign even though there are still excess reserves in the banking system. This has never been done before. Typically, the Fed makes reserves scarce in order to drive up interest rates.

But because the Fed wants a bigger balance sheet, it is trying to have its cake and eat it too. The Fed thinks it can pay banks more interest on those reserves and through a process of reverse repos drain money from the system. In other words, the Fed thinks that it can keep the balance sheet huge and manipulate interest rates even though the banking system is swimming in excess liquidity.

The Fed does have a back-up plan. If banks won’t let the Fed sop up those reserves, and instead they decide to lend them, potentially creating inflation or bubbles, the Fed believes it can use “Macro-Prudential Policy Tools” to manage the money multiplying process. Macro-prudential tools would allow the Fed to stop banks from lending, by raising capital standards, or by limiting growth in certain types of loans or by certain types of banks. And, it allows the Fed to expand its reach to “systemically important financial institutions” that could potentially include insurance companies, brokerages, money managers and even hedge funds.

It’s true that monetary policy should be independent of the political process. Whenever politicians take over the money supply, inflation results. But the corollary argument is just as important. Whenever bureaucrats take over the banking system, everything becomes political. Why? Because the bureaucrats are dependent on the politicians for their existence. The Fed must please enough members of Congress, and the right members, to keep new rules from passing that will limit its power.

The Fed missed the bubble in housing partly because Washington’s political mindset was focused on boosting homeownership any way it could. So, bubbles in politically-correct industries, like housing or green initiatives, are tolerated or even encouraged. Also, risk-taking in private decisions is discouraged because bank losses become political problems. In other words, the bigger and more powerful the Fed becomes, the more dependent it is on the political process.

The easiest way out of this mess is for Congress to force the Fed to sell its assets and limit the Fed’s power to bank oversight, not bank management and macro-prudential policy tools. Don’t audit the Fed, don’t create conspiracy theories, but reign in the overreach and force a smaller balance sheet. If we really want an independent Fed, make it smaller and less powerful. The bigger it gets, the more political, and less independent, it becomes.
Brian S. Wesbury, Chief Economist
227  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Hillary's private server; Gowdy subpoenaes on: March 04, 2015, 01:40:29 PM
second post

228  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: Europe defense shrinks as Putin threat grows on: March 04, 2015, 01:02:42 PM
Europe’s Defense Wanes as the Putin Threat Grows
Most NATO members are going to fail to meet pledges to stop declines in military spending.
Ian Birrell
March 3, 2015 7:08 p.m. ET

The chill of a new Cold War is descending over Europe. In Ukraine, ripped apart by Russian President Vladimir Putin ’s adventurism, a shaky cease-fire holds but there are growing fears of a new onslaught on the key port city Mariupol. In Estonia, one of the increasingly nervous Baltic states, a Feb. 24 Independence Day celebration in Narva, 300 yards from the Russian border, was marked by a NATO show of strength with troops from seven nations, including the U.S. and U.K., marching in the slush.

On the same day Russian troops drilled on their side of the border in Pskov, with 1,500 paratroopers swooping from the sky in exercises to capture an “enemy” airfield. Meanwhile, Lithuania revealed plans to reintroduce conscription in response to “growing aggression” while Norway is restructuring its armed forces to ensure faster response to Russian threats.

A few days earlier, British Defense Secretary Michael Fallon had warned of “real and present” danger to the Baltic states. In Moscow, Kremlin-connected pundits debate whether nuclear war is “winnable” while opposition leaders like Boris Nemtsov, shot in the back last week, are murdered. Russia is probing NATO reactions and response times, with four times as many interceptions made for breaches of Baltic airspace last year than in 2013. Twice recently the Royal Air Force scrambled fighter jets to escort Russian bombers flying over the English Channel.

But when a Russian submarine was suspected of slinking into Scottish waters late last year, weeks after another was spotted off the Swedish coast, the RAF had to summon NATO assistance for sea patrol planes to hunt it down. Such is the state of the British armed forces, cut by governments desperate to cash in the “peace dividend” after the last Cold War and then hit by financial meltdown. Sadly, the U.K. now appears reliant on allies for aircraft to search its own waters. With fewer than 100,000 full-time troops, Great Britain now has a smaller army than during the mid-19th-century Crimean War.

Meanwhile, a new report by the European Leadership Network think-tank reveals that most NATO members are failing to fulfill pledges to reverse declines in defense spending. It found six key countries cutting budgets, including the economic powerhouse of Germany, while the cash flow is flatlining in France, the other big spender. Budgets are rising in frontline states such as Latvia, Lithuania and Poland, but only one country—Estonia, with defense spending of less than $500 million—will meet the NATO target this year of all alliance members spending at least 2% of GDP on defense.

Five months ago, British Prime Minister David Cameron urged NATO members to hit the 2% defense-spending target at a summit in Wales. Now he is coming under growing pressure from disgruntled military chiefs and grumbling backbench members of Parliament as the country falls below the NATO target, and defense spending sinks to its lowest level in 25 years while inflated budgets for dubious foreign-aid projects soar.

Rory Stewart, a widely admired Tory member of Parliament and chairman of the House of Commons defense select committee, rightly argues that the NATO defense-spending target is symbolically important when the world is so dangerous—as well as sending a crucial message to an opportunistic Russian president testing his neighbors’ resolve. “This puts the spotlight on whether European nations are even capable of being regional powers in their backyard,” he recently told me.

Germany has been asserting its leadership in recent weeks by seeking to resolve the two major crises confronting the continent, with Chancellor Angela Merkel heading cease-fire talks over Ukraine before taking a firm stance on Greek debt repayments. The country is also arming Kurds in the fight against Islamic State in Iraq. Yet Berlin’s defense spending has plunged to 1.09% of GDP this year from 1.3% in 2013—despite leaked parliamentary reports last year revealing the shocking state of outdated military equipment.

While Mr. Putin has lied consistently about Russian involvement in Ukraine since the start of his seizure of Crimea, he has been relatively open about his determination to modernize his nation’s creaking military machine. His biographer, Masha Gessen, points out that six of the first 11 decrees Mr. Putin passed after taking office concerned the military, with defense spending soaring despite deep economic problems. Russia’s annual defense spending has doubled over the past decade—surpassing Great Britain’s—and Moscow has plans to replace over two-thirds of the country’s aging military equipment by 2020.

Restraint of Russian expansionism is about more than spending, of course—and U.S. defense budgets still dwarf those of Russia (although Washington seems more focused these days on its “pivot” to Asia and the rapid buildup of China’s arsenal). But Europe needs to wake up after witnessing the first annexation on the continent since 1945, followed by the willful wrecking of Ukraine.

European leaders have been woefully slow to appreciate the threat posed by Mr. Putin’s gangster-style presidency furled in the flag of nationalism. Moscow will strategize on the basis of Western weakness, while continuing to chip away at European divisions. Mr. Putin, for instance, has just awarded a €2.5 billion loan to the financially challenged government of Cyprus—a European Union member opposed to Russian sanctions—in return for naval access to its ports.

NATO is planning a rapid response unit and mounting more exercises. But is this really enough to stop more “little green men,” whether in Russian uniforms or not, from sparking another conflict? As Malcolm Chalmers, research director at the Royal United Services Institute in London, recently told me: “The danger is that Russia next bites off a bit of Estonia, then asks what NATO is going to do about it.”

As we fight this new Cold War, Western leaders need to relearn the old lessons of crisis management and deterrence that defeated Mr. Putin’s Soviet predecessors—and relearn them quickly.

Mr. Birrell is a contributing editor of the U.K. newspaper the Mail on Sunday and a former speechwriter for British Prime Minister David Cameron.
229  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / BOHICA on: March 04, 2015, 12:48:48 PM
230  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Once again we have armed AQ on: March 04, 2015, 12:00:43 PM
231  DBMA Martial Arts Forum / Martial Arts Topics / Re: The Dog Brothers Tribe on: March 04, 2015, 09:56:31 AM
There are some nominations on the Tribal forum by Lonely Dog
232  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Shia Iraq blows off US; instead goes with Iranian boots on the ground in Tikrit on: March 04, 2015, 09:03:29 AM

Iraqi Campaign to Drive ISIS From Tikrit Reveals Tensions With U.S.


BAGHDAD — Tensions between Iraq and the United States over how to battle the Islamic State broke into the open on Tuesday, as Iraqi officials declared that they would fight on their own timetable with or without American help, and as United States warplanes conspicuously sat out the biggest Iraqi counteroffensive yet amid concerns over Iran’s prominent role.

On Monday, Iraq launched a politically sensitive operation to oust Islamic State militants from Tikrit, the birthplace of Saddam Hussein, without seeking American approval, officials said. Even as Iraq was taking a first step into a bigger battle to oust the Islamic State from the northern city of Mosul, it was also signaling that its alliance with the United States might be more fraught than officials had let on.

American officials, for their part, voiced unease with the prominent role of Iran and its allied Shiite militias in the Tikrit operation. Shiite militia leaders said that their fighters made up more than two-thirds of the pro-government force of 30,000, and that the Iranian spymaster Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani was helping to lead from near the front lines.

Alongside them were advisers and troops from Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps, operating artillery, rocket launchers and surveillance drones, according to American officials, who said that the Iranian forces’ participation in the assault in Iraq’s Sunni heartland could inflame the sectarian divide that the Islamic State has exploited.

The operation comes against the backdrop of Iraqi irritation with American officials after they declared that the assault against the Islamic State in Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city, would begin in April and then backpedaled, saying Iraqi forces would not be ready until fall, if then.

Ali al-Alaa, a close aide to Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, expressed frustration with what he described as a sluggish American pace and pessimistic American estimates of how long it would take to drive the Islamic State from Mosul and the western province of Anbar.

“The Americans continue procrastinating about the time it will take to liberate the country,” he said in an interview. “Iraq will liberate Mosul and Anbar without them.”

Abbas al-Moussawi, the spokesman for Mr. Abadi’s predecessor and rival, Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, said that there was “a crisis of trust” between the Americans and the Iraqis, and that “if they will not resolve this problem, we’ll have a big problem in Mosul.”

Still, the United States-led coalition continued to bombard Islamic State militants in other parts of Iraq. And a spokesman for the Defense Ministry, Gen. Tahseen al-Sheikhly, insisted in an interview that Iraq’s military cooperation with the United States was in fine shape, adding that American officials regularly participated in joint operation meetings in Baghdad that include representatives of Shiite militias.

American and Iraqi officials alike said that the Iraqis had not asked for American help in Tikrit, but some Iraqi officials suggested that was because they knew it would not be forthcoming. And while both sides said that the Americans had been warned of the operation, the defense spokesman, General Sheikhly, said that the “zero hour” — the start time of the assault — was known only to Mr. Abadi.
Continue reading the main story
Continue reading the main story

“We still welcome the international alliance’s support,” said Mr. Alaa, the prime minister’s aide. “But if they won’t be supporting us, we have no problem.”

How has ISIS, a 21st-century terrorist organization with a retrograde religious philosophy, spread from Iraq to Syria, Libya and beyond?
Video by Quynhanh Do on Publish Date December 13, 2014.

But progress appeared slow in the push against Tikrit on Tuesday, with no breakthrough in the Iraqi coalition’s efforts to enter the city. Iraqi military officials said they had reached the outskirts of Al Dour, just south of the city, and were advancing slowly after freeing 13 police officers held there by the Islamic State.

Mohammad al-Turkomani, a leader in the militias known as the “popular mobilization” forces, said that with American participation in Tikrit, “we would have moved twice as fast.”

Since the Islamic State swept into Iraq in June, Iran and the United States, longtime enemies that both support the Iraqi government, have maintained an uneasy de facto alliance against the group, with the United States-led coalition unleashing airstrikes, and Shiite militias aligned with Iran fighting alongside army and Kurdish forces on the ground. There have also been growing reports of Iranian forces’ directly joining the fight within Iraq.

The Americans’ discomfort has grown as Mr. Abadi’s government has been unable to mobilize significant Sunni forces to join the fight, something that American officials consider crucial to breaking the Islamic State’s hold on many heavily Sunni areas.

For their part, Iraqi officials increasingly complain that American support has not been as robust as Iran’s. Many Iraqis resent what they see as American squeamishness about the militias, which by all accounts have been crucial to holding back the Islamic State after regular army units fled its assault.

“Americans consider us a militia that does not represent the government, while we are defending the country and helping the government,” said Mueen al-Kadhimy, a leader in the Badr Organization, a prominent militia. “We are the people of Iraq.”

The Tikrit offensive could prove to be a first step toward driving back the Islamic State, or it could deepen longstanding sectarian and political divides that the militants have exploited to win support from some Iraqi Sunnis and acquiescence from others. The group has also used brutal intimidation tactics against Sunnis who reject it or support the government in Baghdad.

But at the same time, Shiite militias have been accused of reprisals against the Sunni population, many of whom regard them with suspicion and fear.

The Tikrit operation is the Iraqis’ first attempt to seize the area since June, when Islamic State militants massacred more than 1,000 Iraqi Shiite soldiers as they fled a nearby military base, Camp Speicher. There have been fears that Shiite militia members from the same areas many of the soldiers hailed from could take revenge on local Sunnis if they enter Tikrit, and some militia leaders have openly called the assault a revenge operation.

“There’s a risk there,” said one senior American military official, expressing concern that the Iraqi operations might not pay sufficient attention to the risks of civilian casualties from indiscriminate artillery and rocket fire.

But the American official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the ongoing battle, acknowledged that if the Iraqis and their Iranian advisers maintained strict controls on their targeting and the operation resulted in “fewer ISIS fighters and chasing them from Tikrit, that’s not unhelpful.”
233  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / WSJ: The Clinton Rules on: March 04, 2015, 08:19:04 AM
The Clinton Rules
Foreign donors and private email show how Bill and Hillary work.
March 3, 2015 7:29 p.m. ET

Hillary Clinton hasn’t even begun her expected presidential candidacy, but already Americans are being reminded of the political entertainment they can expect. To wit, the normal rules of government ethics and transparency apply to everyone except Bill and Hillary.

Last week we learned that the Clinton Foundation had accepted donations from foreign governments despite having made a public display of not doing so. The Family Clinton had agreed not to accept such donations while Mrs. Clinton was serving as Secretary of State, with rare exceptions approved by State’s ethics shop.

But, lo, the foundation quietly began accepting such gifts from the likes of Qatar and Algeria after she left the State Department—though everyone in the world knew she was likely to run for President in 2016. The foundation didn’t announce the donations, which our Journal colleagues discovered in a search of the foundation’s online data base.

Then Monday the New York Times reported that Mrs. Clinton used a personal email account for official business as Secretary of State, despite a federal transparency law that requires officials to maintain emails on government servers. A former long-time litigation director at the National Archives & Records Administration told the paper he could “recall no instance” when a high-ranking official had solely used a personal email address for government business.

Clinton spokesman Nick Merrill says this is no big deal because Team Clinton is following “the letter and the spirit of rules” and has turned over to State some 55,000 emails in response to a formal request. Put another way, Mrs. Clinton is controlling which emails are divulged, and everyone should trust her judgment. We doubt Congress’s Benghazi investigators will be reassured. You also have to wonder about the judgment of America’s top diplomat exposing her official business on personal email to cyber hacking from China or Iran.

The real story here is that none of this is a surprise. This is how the Clintons roll. They’re a political version of the old Peanuts cartoon character who was always surrounded by a cloud of dirt. Ethical shortcuts and controversies are standard operating procedure. A brief 1990s roll call: The Riadys, Johnny Chung, Travelgate, the vanishing Rose billing records, a killing in cattle futures, the Marc Rich pardon.

The Clintons and Democrats want Americans to forget all of that. But as the email and foundation discoveries show, the Clintons haven’t changed. They still think they can do what they please and get away with it.

Popular on WSJ
234  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / DOJ report on Ferguson MO law enforcement on: March 04, 2015, 07:53:00 AM
235  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Science, Culture, & Humanities / Fewer Sun Spots mean ice age is coming? on: March 03, 2015, 10:23:20 PM
The Maunder Minimum (also known as the prolonged sunspot minimum) is the name used for the period roughly spanning 1645 to 1715 when sunspots became exceedingly rare, as noted by solar observers of the time.

Like the Dalton Minimum and Spörer Minimum, the Maunder Minimum coincided with a period of lower-than-average global temperatures.

During one 30-year period within the Maunder Minimum, astronomers observed only about 50 sunspots, as opposed to a more typical 40,000-50,000 spots. (Source)
Climatologist John Casey, a former space shuttle engineer and NASA consultant, thinks that last year’s winter, described by USA Today as “one of the snowiest, coldest, most miserable on record” is going to be a regular occurrence over the coming decades.

Casey asserts that there is mounting evidence that the Earth is getting cooler due to a decline in solar activity. He warns in his latest book, Dark Winter that a major alteration of global climate has already started and that at a minimum it is likely to last 30 years.

Casey predicts food shortages and civil unrest caused by those shortages due largely to governments not preparing for the issues that colder weather will bring. he also predicts that wickedly bitter winter temperatures will see demand for electricity and heating outstrip the supply.

Casey isn’t alone in his thinking. Russian climate expert and astrophysicist Habibullo Abdussamatov goes one step further and states that we are at the very beginning of a new ice age.

Dr. Abdussamatov points out that Earth has experienced such occurrences five times over the last 1,000 years, and that:

“A global freeze will come about regardless of whether or not industrialized countries put a cap on their greenhouse gas emissions. The common view of Man’s industrial activity is a deciding factor in global warming has emerged from a misinterpretation of cause and effect.” (source)

Don Easterbrook, a climate scientist based at Western Washington University predicted exactly what Casey is saying as far back as 2008. in his paper ‘Evidence for Predicting Global Cooling for the Next Three Decades’ he states:

Despite no global warming in 10 years and recording setting cold in 2007-2008, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climatic Change (IPCC) and computer modelers who believe that CO2 is the cause of global warming still predict the Earth is in store for catastrophic warming in this century. IPCC computer models have predicted global warming of 1° F per decade, and 5-6° C (10-11° F) by 2100 which would cause global catastrophe with ramifications for human life, natural habitat, energy, water resources, and food production. All of this is predicated on the assumption that global warming is caused by increasing atmospheric CO2 and that CO2 will continue to rise rapidly.

The list of climate scientists that are moving into the global cooling camp is growing, many of them base their views on past climate records and history suggests a link between diminished solar activity and bitterly cold winters, as well as cooler summers, in the northern hemisphere.

“My opinion is that we are heading into a Maunder Minimum,” said Mark Giampapa, a solar physicist at the National Solar Observatory (NSO) in Tucson, Arizona. “I’m seeing a continuation in the decline of the sunspots’ mean magnetic field strengths and a weakening of the polar magnetic fields and subsurface flows.”
David Hathaway of NASA’s Marshall Solar Physics Center explains:

“We’re at the sunspot maximum of Cycle 24. It’s the smallest sunspot cycle in 100 years and the third in a trend of diminishing sunspot cycles. So, Cycle 25 could likely be smaller than Cycle 24.”

A NASA Science News report of January 2013 details the science behind the sunspot-climate connection and it well worth reading. It should be remembered that since the report was written Solar cycle 24 has been proven to be not the smallest cycle in 50 years, but the smallest for more than 100 years. The last one with sunspot numbers this low was 1906, solar cycle 14.

“Indeed, the sun could be on the threshold of a mini-Maunder event right now. Ongoing Solar Cycle 24 [the current short term 11 year cycle] is the weakest in more than 50 years. Moreover, there is (controversial) evidence of a long-term weakening trend in the magnetic field strength of sunspots. Matt Penn and William Livingston of the National Solar Observatory predict that by the time Solar Cycle 25 arrives, magnetic fields on the sun will be so weak that few if any sunspots will be formed. Independent lines of research involving helioseismology and surface polar fields tend to support their conclusion.”

Livingston and Penn are solar astronomers With the NSO (National Solar Observatory) in Tuscon, Arizona. They use a measurement known as Zeeman splitting to gather data on sunspots. They discovered in 1990, that the number of sunspots is dropping and that once the magnetic field drops below 1500 Gauss , that no sunspots will form. (A Gauss is a magnetic field measurement. The Gauss of the Earth is less than one). If the decline continues at its present rate they estimate that the Sun will be spot free by 2016.

If these scientists are correct, we are heading into a period of bitterly cold winters and much cooler summers. Imagine year after year of ‘polar vortex’ winters that start early, finish late and deliver unprecedented cold across the country. Cool wet summers will affect food production, as will floods from the melting snow when spring finally arrives.

Read more:
NASA Admits That Winters are Going to Get Colder…Much Colder -
The Maunder Minimum (also known as the prolonged sunspot minimum) is the name used for the period roughly spanning 1645 to 1715 when sunspots...
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236  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Gowdy goes after Hillary's Benghazi emails on: March 03, 2015, 08:22:26 PM
237  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Hillbillary Clintons long, sordid, and often criminal history on: March 03, 2015, 08:21:56 PM

Also see  In asking for her notes they may be overreaching a bit, but overall it looks like the pressure is building.
238  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Did Pravda on the Hudson get it wrong? on: March 03, 2015, 07:50:34 PM
239  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Iran on: March 03, 2015, 07:44:24 PM
The deal that Obama blew up by divulging it was with Azerbaijan IIRC.
240  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Elizabeth "Forked Tongue" Warren, Fauxcahontas, Harvard's first woman of color on: March 03, 2015, 09:34:44 AM
"rent seekers and corruption of the political process by favored business interests should be OUR attack on THEIR system."

241  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Wrap your head around this , , , on: March 03, 2015, 09:29:34 AM
242  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / VDH: The Liberal Circus on: March 03, 2015, 12:15:51 AM

The Liberal Circus
March 2, 2015 7:30 am / 9 Comments / victorhanson

by Victor Davis Hanson // PJ Media
This Nov. 28, 2012 file photo shows then-Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton listening as President Barack Obama speaks in the Cabinet Room at the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)

This Nov. 28, 2012 file photo shows then-Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton listening as President Barack Obama speaks in the Cabinet Room at the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)

Lately liberalism has gone from psychodrama to farce.

Take Barack Obama. He has gone from mild displeasure with Israel to downright antipathy. Suddenly we are in a surreal world where off-the-record slurs from the administration against Benjamin Netanyahu as a coward and chickensh-t have gone to full-fledged attacks from John Kerry and Susan Rice, to efforts of former Obama political operatives to defeat the Israeli prime minister at the polls, to concessions to Iran and to indifference about the attacks on Jews in Paris. Who would have believed that Iranian leaders who just ordered bombing runs on a mock U.S. carrier could be treated with more deference than the prime minister of Israel? What started out six years as pressure on Israel to dismantle so-called settlements has ended up with a full-fledged vendetta [1] against a foreign head of state.

Hillary Clinton likewise has gone from a rather run-of-the-mill liberal grandee to a political grafter [2]. She apparently solicited donations from foreign government officials and wealthy foreign nationals to contribute to the Clinton Foundation — and this was while she was secretary of State conducting the foreign policy of the United States. If those charges are proven accurate, how could she ever be trusted to become commander in chief? Unfortunately, in the last year almost every cause that Hillary Clinton has taken up has been belied by her own actions.

Inequality and fairness? At time when students struggle under a collective $1 trillion-plus student debt, much of it because of universities hiking fees and tuitions above the inflation rate, Hillary has serially charged universities well over $200,000 [3] for 30-minute boilerplate speeches.

Women’s issues? We learn that women on Senator Clinton’s staff once made considerably less than their male counterparts [4]. Had Bill Clinton worked at a university, corporation or government bureau, his sexual peccadillos long ago would have had him thrown off the premises. The latest disclosures about his junkets with convicted pedophile Jeffrey Epstein [5] are so bizarre that no one quite knows what to make of them — the would-be first female and feminist president married to a man who serially cavorted with a convicted sexual pervert?

Transparency? Consider the recent disclosures that Hillary knew almost immediately that the Benghazi killings were the preplanned work of terrorists and not due to spontaneous rioters angry over a video — and yet continued to deceive the public that just the opposite was true. The problem with Hillary’s scandals are not just that they reveal a lack of character, but that they are illiberal to the core on hallmark progressive issues of concern for equality, transparency and feminism.

We no longer live in an age of debate over global warming. It has now transmogrified well beyond Al Gore’s hysterics, periodic disclosures about warmists’ use of faked data, embarrassing email vendettas, vindictive lawsuits, crony green capitalism, and flawed computer models. Now Congressman Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), the ranking Democrat on the House Natural Resources Committee, has taken the psychodrama to the level of farce in a two-bit McCarthyesque effort [6] to demand from universities information about scientists who do not embrace his notions of manmade global warming. Where are the ACLU and fellow Democratic congressional supporters of free speech and academic freedom to censure such an Orwellian move? Finally, even the American Meteorological Society had to condemn the unhinged Grijalva for his bizarre efforts.

Attorney General Eric Holder came into office alleging racism and calling the American people cowards, and six years later is exiting, still blaming racism for his own self-inflicted failures. In between, Holder became the first attorney general to be cited for contempt by Congress. He stonewalled the Fast and Furious investigations. His plans to try terrorists in federal civilian courts were tabled almost immediately. He ordered electronic taps and surveillance on the communications of Associated Press and Fox reporters for supposed leaks.  He ignored wrongdoing in the IRS mess, a scandal that continues to grow. He got caught using his government jet [7] to take his daughters and their boyfriends to the Belmont Stakes.

But Holder will be remembered largely for his racialist tenure. He dropped a strong case of voting intimidation by armed Black Panthers at the polls. In congressional testimony, he referred to blacks as “my people”; anyone else — except Joe Biden — who had said the same would have been asked to resign. He promised federal action on Ferguson and the Trayvon Martin shootings — and then quietly backed off when the evidence for civil rights violations did not meet his own rhetorical excesses. The problem, he pleaded, was not that his targets were not guilty under the law, but that the law itself had to be changed to make them guilty.  Holder claimed repeatedly that opposition to Obama was race-based, and he leaves office as a caricature of incompetence and racial divisiveness.

The IRS scandal likewise went from melodrama to farce. The president said there was not a “smidgeon” of corruption in the selective targeting of conservatives. Lois Lerner, the focus of investigations, pled the Fifth Amendment after having received over $100,000 in merit bonuses. When congressional investigators wanted to subpoena her computer records, IRS officials claimed both that her hard drive  had crashed and that its data was unrecoverable. The latter proved untrue; but then so far so has everything the IRS has said. The only lesson is that any private citizen who replied to IRS inquiries in the manner that the IRS responded to public subpoenas would be jailed.

Debt? Barack Obama stated out in 2008 calling George W. Bush unpatriotic for piling up nearly $5 trillion in eight years; he may be on target to double that amount — and trump the combined red ink of all prior presidents. Obama raised taxes, slashed defense, and still ended up with over a $500 billion annual deficit, as he declared the age of austerity over.

So it has become with most liberal issues. The debate over illegal immigration has gone from arguments over closing the border to Social Security cash rebates to illegals and presidential threats to punish Border Patrol officers who enforce existing law. State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf assures us that poverty and unemployment are catalysts to terrorism [8], just as so-called Jihadi John, the psychotic ISIS beheader, is revealed to be a preppie British subject[9] from the upper middle class. The president brags that gas prices have gone down because frackers ignored his efforts to stop them — and then vetoes the Keystone Pipeline.

The Trayvon Martin controversy descends from the purportedly preteen of released photos who was shot down in cold blood by a white vigilante into doctored NBC tapes, airbrushed photos, the New York Times’ invented rubric “white Hispanic,” the president weighing in on Trayvon’s shared racial appearance, girlfriend Rachel Jeantel’s explanation of Trayvon’s violence as a sort of homophobic act of “whoop ass” — only to be echoed by MSNBC talking head Melissa Harris-Perry’s ugly sanction of violence on Martin Luther King Day with the amplification of Jeantel’s term “whoop”:  “I hope [Martin] whooped the sh-it out of George Zimmerman [10].” It would be hard for a satirist to make all that up.

Michael Brown goes from the icon of a “gentle giant” in vain calling out “hands up, don’t shoot” only to be gunned down by a white racist cop — to a thug who strong-armed a store clerk, walked out into the middle of the road under the influence and then attacked a police officer. Conspiracists once warned us that the government was buying up ammo to prevent private gun owners from purchasing it; now we learn that Obama by executive order may ban [11] the most popular type of sporting ammunition. Is there one element of Obamacare that has not been modified, delayed, or ignored — from the employer mandate to the fine for noncompliance?

Why this descent into travesty?

The liberal left got what it wanted in 2009 with a supermajority in the Senate and large majority in the House, a subservient mainstream media, the good will of the American people, and the most liberal president in American history. It only took that the liberal hierarchy six years to erode the Democratic Party to levels that we have not seen since the 1920s. Almost every policy initiative we have seen — whether climate change, foreign policy, health care, or race relations — has imploded.

The answer to these failures has not been introspection, humility, or reevaluation why the liberal agenda proved unpopular and unworkable, but in paranoid fashion to double-down on it, convinced that its exalted aims must allow any means necessary — however farcical —  to achieve them.

The logical result is the present circus.
243  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Too much even for Norway on: March 03, 2015, 12:05:16 AM
244  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Benghazi and related matters on: March 02, 2015, 11:23:22 PM

Judicial Watch confirmed Thursday what many Americans already knew: Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's attempt to blame the attacks in Benghazi on an "offensive video" was a bald-faced lie. As the result of a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the State Department, Judicial Watch obtained a series of critical emails that not only reveal State Department officials knew immediately the American compound in Benghazi was under attack but that the attack was perpetrated by assailants tied to a terrorist group. And despite the infamous exasperated question from the Democrats' likely presidential nominee, the truth does make a big difference at this point.
The first email was sent Sept. 11, 2012, at 4:07 p.m. It was forwarded by former Clinton Special Assistant Maria Sand to Clinton's former Chief of Staff Cheryl Mills, former Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy Jacob Sullivan, former Executive Assistant Joseph McManus, and a host of other Special Assistants in Clinton's office. It read as follows:
"The Regional Security Officer reports the diplomatic mission is under attack. Tripoli reports approximately 20 armed people fired shots; explosions have been heard as well. Ambassador Stevens, who is currently in Benghazi, and four COM [Chief of Mission] personnel are in the compound safe haven. The 17th of February militia is providing security support."

Another email arrived at 4:38 p.m. It was sent by the former director of the Diplomatic Security Service, Scott Bultrowicz, who was fired following the report issued by the Advisory Review Board (ARB) citing "systematic failures and leadership and management deficiencies at senior levels within two bureaus of the State Department" responsible for security in Benghazi. That would be the same ARB that refused to interview Hillary Clinton as part of its investigation. State Department Foreign Officer Lawrence Randolph forwarded Mills, Sullivan and McManus the email from Bultrowicz with the subject line "Attack on Benghazi 90112012":

"DSCC received a phone call from [REDACTED] in Benghazi, Libya initially stating that 15 armed individuals were attacking the compound and trying to gain entrance. The Ambassador is present in Benghazi and currently is barricaded within the compound. There are no injuries at this time and it is unknown what the intent of the attackers is. At approximately 1600 DSCC received word from Benghazi that individuals had entered the compound. At 1614 RSO advised the Libyans had set fire to various buildings in the area, possibly the building that houses the Ambassador [REDACTED] is responding and taking fire."

At 12:04 a.m. Randolph updated Mills, Sullivan and McManus with another email with the subject line "FW: Update 3: Benghazi Shelter Location Also Under Attack":
"I just called Ops and they said the DS command center is reporting that the compound is under attack again. I am about to reach out to the DS Command Center."
Contained in that email is a series of equally damning updates:

4:54 p.m.: "Embassy Tripoli reports the firing at the U.S. Diplomatic Mission in Benghazi has stopped and the compound has been cleared. A response team is on site to locate COM personnel."

6:06 p.m.: "Update 2: Ansar al-Sharia Claims Responsibility for Benghazi Attack (SBU): (SBU) Embassy Tripoli reports the group claimed responsibility on Facebook and Twitter and call for an attack on Embassy Tripoli."

11:57 p.m.: "(SBU) DS Command reports the current shelter location for COM personnel in Benghazi is under mortar fire. There are reports of injuries to COM staff."
And finally, at 3:22 a.m., Sept. 12, Senior Watch Officer Andrew Veprek forwarded an email to numerous State Department officials, later forwarded to Mills and McManus. The subject line? "Death of Ambassador Stevens in Benghazi":

"Embassy Tripoli confirms the death of Ambassador John C. (Chris) Stevens in Benghazi. His body has been recovered and is at the airport in Benghazi."
Two hours later, McManus forwarded the news of Stevens' death to the State Department Legislative Affairs office -- with instructions not to "forward to anyone at this point."

Hillary Clinton's response? An official statement calling the attack "a response to inflammatory material posted on the Internet."

As for her other, earlier response, blatantly ignored by the mainstream media? A 10 p.m. phone call between Clinton and Obama, completely contradicting the previous assertion by the White House that Obama made no phone calls the night of the attack. As National Review's Andrew McCarthy sarcastically asked, "Gee, what do you suppose Obama and Clinton talked about in that 10 p.m. call?"

The rest of the orchestrated disinformation campaign -- sending former UN ambassador, current National Security Advisor and reliable propagandist Susan Rice on network news shows to maintain the despicable lie, Obama's assertion of same on the David Letterman Show and at the UN, the spending of $70,000 for a Pakistani ad campaign showing Obama and Clinton denouncing the anti-Islamic video, and a host of other insults to the public's intelligence -- can no longer be obscured.

America twice elected an inveterate liar as commander in chief. And the very same corrupt media that ran interference for Obama's lies are gearing up to do the same thing for an equally inveterate liar. And make no mistake: All of Clinton's critics will be characterized as perpetrating a war on women whenever the subject of her horrendous track record of prevarication arises -- one that included another blatant lie about landing in Bosnia under sniper fire.

And that's if those questions arise at all. Here are two separate Google Searches related to the revelations presented by Judicial Watch. Note that not a single mainstream media source has even filed a report, much less made this the kind of headline story, followed by a relentless series of updates, that would have attended any Republican caught doing exactly the same thing. An equal amount of calculated disinterest attends the scandalous conflict of interest surrounding the Clinton Foundation, which received millions of dollars from foreign governments while Clinton was secretary of state. Foreign governments and individuals are prohibited from giving money to a U.S. political candidate. Funneling those contributions through the Clinton Foundation allows Hillary to skirt such restrictions.

On Benghazi, Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton gets it exactly right: "These emails leave no doubt that Hillary Clinton's closest advisers knew the truth about the Benghazi attack from almost the moment it happened. And it is inescapable that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton knowingly lied when she planted the false story about 'inflammatory material being posted on the Internet.' The contempt for the public's right to know is evidenced not only in these documents but also in the fact that we had to file a lawsuit in federal court to obtain them. The Obama gang's cover-up continues to unravel, despite its unlawful secrecy and continued slow-rolling of information. Congress, if it ever decides to do its job, cannot act soon enough to put Hillary Clinton, Cheryl Mills, and every other official in these emails under oath."
Whether Congress is up to the job or not, one thing is crystal clear: Hillary Clinton is manifestly unfit to lead this nation. Her election to the Oval Office would be a continuation of the lawlessness and lying this nation has endured for the past six years. Judicial Watch has produced the smoking gun. The voting public ignores it at the nation's peril.
245  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Elizabeth "Forked Tongue" Warren, Fauxcahontas, Harvard's first woman of color on: March 02, 2015, 11:21:17 PM
I humbly suggest that you are missing a piece of the pie here.

IMHO her critique overlaps more than a little with our Liberal Fascism critique-- which also addresses rent seekers, corruption of the political process by favored business interests and the like.

"Nearly all would buy into this"


WE should be making some of these points AND offering actual solutions.
246  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: The Hillbillary Clintons long, sordid, and often criminal history on: March 02, 2015, 09:05:42 PM
247  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Re: Elizabeth "Forked Tongue" Warren, Fauxcahontas, Harvard's first woman of color on: March 02, 2015, 05:50:43 PM
A interesting chance to size up Warren:

You best believe that this is going to really appeal to lots of decent people.
248  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Ukraine's gold in US hands? on: March 02, 2015, 05:45:40 PM
I have no idea whether this is true or not.
249  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / We win one! on: March 02, 2015, 05:23:25 PM
second post
250  Politics, Religion, Science, Culture and Humanities / Politics & Religion / Implications of court finding that PA and PLO are terrorist groups on: March 02, 2015, 02:00:05 PM
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